Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Nick the Geek

Let's face it - I liked Nick the Geek long before I knew he was younger than 2/3 of my kids. If you found my blog today, it's because of him. If you got lost and directed somewhere else, it's because of him. Most things are his fault, good or bad.

Nick is Super Youth Pastor who has gotten me out of more than a few geek-type jams. He has also gotten me in a lot of trouble, but we won't go there. Go follow him on Twitter, because I need you to take my side on a few arguments like using the NetiPot (not geeky enough for him, it simply uses the wonderful forces of gravity), eating more fruits and veggies, and supporting my Hawkeyes in some way, shape, or form. He will argue with you, simply because he can.

He keeps his finger on the pulse of geekdom at all times.

I really wanted to give him these for his birthday, but I didn't. I'm of the "It's the thought that counts" mentality, so...
 He.Got. Nuthin'.

He even has his own action figure. I've heard his MIL has one, but she's ripped the head off. For the love of all that's good and holy, I can't understand why.

Nick has a huge heart for the youth in his community, and I'm waiting to see him on AFV one of these days sporting his T-shirt cannon which he has promised to use to spew my ashes across the Mississippi. (Hopefully not soon).

Swing by Nick's blog and wish him Happy Birthday, or leave a comment here - I'm sure he'll stop back to make sure this random rambling is still online.

Tea today: Young hyson

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One Word at a Time: Trust

I'm joining sweet tweep Bridget Chumbley today in her "One Word at a Time" blog carnival.
Today's word:

We are born trusting souls, dependent on someone else for our every need. As we mature, our human failures become all too obvious. Who and what can we trust?

The first thing that came to mind when I heard this week's word was "Guard your heart..." Seriously, how trusting is that?

It's so easy for us to distrust both people and things.

Inanimate objects are very easy to distrust, because we half-way expect them to let us down. A flat tire. A broken dryer. Mere "stuff" is known to fail us on several levels, even if it works all the time. In the end, it's still stuff. Stuff with no heart.

When people let us down, the failure goes much deeper. It's heart failure.

"Guard your heart..."

And therein lies error of our ways, because our hearts are not perfect. People, no matter how close they are to you, are simply not perfect. Worse, we are unmistakably flawed. And only the ultimately perfect can be trusted.

Our most trusted friends have let us down with gossip, greed, or envy. Our families will let us down with broken promises, little white lies, disrespect, and less-than-full disclosure. Trust that takes years to build can be destroyed in a moment.

Trust me on this one.

Because I have been that friend.
That wife.
That mom.
That daughter.
And though I'm as loyal as white on rice, there have been times that I know I have let others down in their eyes and they felt some level of betrayal, no matter how unintended it was. I'm a work in progress.

With our relationships, we take the risk of rebuilding and regaining that trust. It demands faith, hope, and guts. And a bit of heart-guarding until you feel safe and secure again. We want and need to trust again. We will trust again. In order to do so, it begins with reminders of simple scrawled words of a small child, and a lot of help from Above. Because only the Perfect can be implicitly trusted.

Tea today: green with lemongrass

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Death Stinks

If you've been hanging out here for a bit, you may remember Harold. He's nearing 50 years old and has been with us for over 30. He's far more than a jade plant - he's family. With our below-freezing temps, it was time to snuggle him in for the winter.

Sadly, I think we were too late. The frost hit us hard the night before. Though we brought him in while he still looked healthy (actually, Ron Burgundy brought him in and I supervised), his limbs are starting to brown and wither and I fear that he has seen his last days.

Jade is also known as a friendship tree, lucky plant, or money plant. Through the years I have been blessed with dear friends, a wonderful puppy named Lucky, and a good job. I don't see it as an accident that Lucky went to the Rainbow Bridge this year, and it now appears Harold might join him, or wherever it is that plants go to die. It is not a coincidence that in the past 3 months I have also seen 3 old (yet young) tennis friends go to Heaven's gates.

God is never surprised - I shouldn't be either. But the plans are His.

And Harold stinks. Stinks like death. As in compost. Unfortunately, his winter home is right next to my bed and it's the last thing I smell at night and the first thing I smell in the morning. This air can't be healthy. Compost was meant for the outdoors.

Harold may surprise me again. He's rallied before, just like Lucky did many times after being given his death sentence by the vet. But Harold's gigantic pot is cracked, and I can't find another one to fit him. Consequently his nourishment is limited, and I can't find the right way to patch a clay pot. The only saving grace is that he has an offspring in my kitchen window that is thriving. Perhaps little Harry will live on and carry Harold's legacy.

I'm just not quite ready to see him go yet. But that smell can leave any time.

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."
~Isaiah 40:8

Tea today: cheap generic green from somewhere but it's good.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Octopus Elliptical from Hell

I sauntered into the gym yesterday as I have done for the past 20 years, with all the confidence my saggy T-shirt could give me. “2002 District Sectionals.” The multicolored tennis balls on my shirt were cracked and faded, but yes, I had been there. Once.

A perky thirty-something on one of the machines caught my eye. Perhaps it wa
s her toned, tanned Barbie-like arms. Or maybe her Barbie-like blond ponytail swinging with each graceful stride. Or was it the glistening sweat rolling past her trendy UnderArmour onto taut Barbie-like hammies? I watched her with that “I’ll have what she’s having” look and decided it was going to be a tough workout.

I know the gym equipment as well as the crow's feet in my 10X mirr
or. I had been involved with the initial start-up for the Wellness Center. My very first request was for petty cash for a Jane Fonda aerobics album. Album, as in vinyl. Legwarmers. Terry cloth sweatband. That was when we were jumping and stretching to Billy Ocean, Jimmy Buffet, and Boz Scaggs. Hawt. And we served punch after class.

We eventually got real gym equipment and I became quite comfortable with it. Treadmill: forward and up. Elliptical: forward and back. Cybex: up and down. Barbells: uh and oh. I had pretty much christened every piece there. Most of them were my friends and had served me well.

But Barbie was on a new torture device, and it intrigued me. I couldn’t wait until she left for the stretching corner so I could hop on this new-fangled machine, because surely I could capture her same stride. I situated my iPod earphones. Right ear - check. Left ear (no sound, but lets me hear the right ear better) - check.

My first step up (way up – it was a tall machine) was a surprise. The foot piece went straight down, not forward as I had expected. I managed to catch myself after whacking my elbow on what was apparently an upright hand grip. I firmly planted the other leg into place. There were a dozen buttons on the console, none of which said “defibrillator” so I was fairly certain I wasn’t on a suicide mission. There were three different places to put your hands, and I envisioned this would be quite simple for an octopus, but now I had a decision to make. Straight in front and stationary? Down to the side and slightly pumping? Or swinging at my side and really trucking along?

I started stepping, but the up and down motion was something that was not in my muscle memory. I tilted sideways to the right and nearly fell down the 18 stories inches to the ground. I hit my hip on a railing, but kept stepping. My stumble had forced me a bit to the left and my hip bounced off the railing on the other side. I now have matching hip contusions, all to the tune of TobyMac singing “…fall to the earth lik
e a crashing wave...” in my right ear only, of course. My pride wouldn’t allow me to stop stepping, so I forged ahead.

I started getting the hang of it, but after 90 seconds, my quads were s
creaming for mercy, and I realized then that I had the machine on the highest resistance setting. I hit a few more buttons to relieve my suffering. I switched my iPod to some Andy Stanley for a little inspiration and perhaps some divine intervention.

I’m in the groove now, and it’s time to be like Barbie. Let’s see what these guns will do with the other arm options. I reached up to grab the gliding arm things and lost my balance again. This time I lurched forward, and my right foot slipped off the foot piece, which in turn made me whack my right knee on the middle rail piece some brilliant e
ngineer thought was necessary to put there, just because he could. And I’m sure he’s in cahoots with the orthopedic surgeons in our town.

Keep moving. Just keep moving.

I’m settled into a groove again. Me, Andy, and the Perky Octopus Elliptical from Hell. My right foot is getting sore, mostly from compensation because of the wad of ga
uze that I use to pad a thin spot in my well-worn shoes. The gauze is now wadded up in the toe. And Andy’s in my right ear telling me “don’t judge and measure God by your circumstances.”

Oo--kaaay then.

That’s when Barbie walked by and gave me a perky, toothy smile. “Don’t you just love that machine?"

Have I mentioned how I hate “perky?” And that youth is so wasted on the young?

“It’s great,” I lied, perkily. It’s amazing how much energy you can fake muster when someone is actually watching you.

I very quickly found out that speaking, even two words, while stepping and arm-gliding and balance-keeping and message-listening – two words were enough to thr
ow my rhythm and balance off again. Clunk. I fell forward, this time whacking my left knee on the same doggone rail. My arms flailed in the air, grasping for anything that would hold me upright, but I wasn’t smart enough to stop stepping and as such, the right arm handle came back and whumped me in the forehead (which could only mean I was doubled over in pain before it hit me). Praise God nobody had given me a stick of gum. This could have been ugly uglier.

Barbie skipped out of the gym and I glanced over my shoulder to make sure she was gone. I stopped the machine. Four minutes and fifty-five seconds of being thr
own under the exercise bus.

I went to the stretching corner and licked my wounds. Caught my breath. Told Andy to take a hike. (He was not meant for such a time as this). And when I was able to move again, I adjusted my high-tech shoe gauze and went back to my t
rusty treadmill - my safe, happy place. Forward and up. To the tune of “Burn for You” (thanks, Fee Band), fire in my bones and all.

This morning I woke up in the middle of a dream where I was playing at Wimbledon in a pair of steel-toed work boots. It was one of the most painful crawls out of bed since Jane Fonda bellered “Feel the burn?”

I hate perky.

Tea tonight: Young hyson